Buckie Thistle boss Graeme Stewart is relishing the chance to get an early look at Highland League new boys Brechin City after being drawn against them in the first round of the Challenge Cup.
The Glebe Park side are new additions to the Highland League following their relegation in the pyramid play-offs last season.
Thistle are scheduled to play the newcomers in the league on October 2 but manager Stewart is excited to take them on earlier than that in the Challenge Cup on August 10 or 11.
The winner of that tie will travel to face Championship side @ICTFC.
The first round is scheduled for the midweek of 10/11 August. pic.twitter.com/v0xequp3HE
— Brechin City FC (@BrechinCityFC) July 6, 2021
He said: “Brechin and Brora Rangers are probably the two favourites to win the Highland League so it’s a tough draw but it’s a good one.
“It gives us a chance to look at them. I’ve kept in touch with what they’ve been doing, they’ve signed a couple of really good players, so it’s going to be a very tough game.
“But it’s still a very good opportunity to see them early.”
Awaiting the winners of the all-Highland League affair will be co-holders Caley Thistle.
Inverness and Raith Rovers were announced as joint-winners of the 2019-20 tournament after the SPFL cancelled the final.
A trip to the Highland capital would be an exciting one for the Jags, but Stewart will instruct his players not to look beyond Brechin.
He added: “It’s a great incentive but we’ll concentrate on the first game. Brechin will probably go in as slight favourites for it so we need to give them respect.
“But we played Inverness last season and got beat narrowly 3-2, it was unlucky.
“A lot of our boys are ex-Inverness players, too, and we’ve got seven or eight who come from Inverness so that would also be a great incentive.
“But first things first, let’s take care of Brechin.”
Dons go north, Broch home comforts
Elsewhere in the regionalised first-round draw, Highland League winners Brora will host Aberdeen B while Fraserburgh welcome League 2 Cowdenbeath to Bellslea.
Peterhead and Elgin will play Dundee B and Hibernian B respectively with Ross County B hosting Stirling Albion.
In the second round, also regionalised, Cove Rangers were drawn at home to Stenhousemuir.
From the third round onwards there are no draw restrictions. Any tie which ends in a draw will go straight to penalties until the semi-finals, at which point extra time will be introduced.
Full first-round draw
North section: Brechin City v Buckie Thistle; Dundee B v Peterhead; East Fife v St Johnstone B; Hibernian B v Elgin City; Brora Rangers v Aberdeen B; Fraserburgh v Cowdenbeath; Forfar Athletic v Formartine United; Ross County B v Stirling Albion; Stenhousemuir v Dundee United B.
South section: Dumbarton v Rangers B; Livingston B v Albion Rovers; Edinburgh City v Hearts B; Celtic B v Annan Athletic; Queen’s Park v Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic; Broomhill v Clyde; Falkirk v East Kilbride; St Mirren B v Kelty Hearts; Stranraer v Motherwell B.
Ties to be played August 10 & 11
Full second-round draw
North section: Montrose v Ross County B/Stirling Albion; Brora Rangers/Aberdeen B v Arbroath; Cove Rangers v Stenhousemuir/Dundee United B; Fraserburgh/Cowdenbeath v Alloa Athletic; Raith Rovers v Forfar Athletic/Formartine United; Hibernian B/Elgin City v Dunfermline Athletic; Caley Thistle v Brechin City/Buckie Thistle; Dundee B/Peterhead v East Fife/St Johnstone B.
🗓 Tie to be played on weekend of 4 & 5 September 2021 pic.twitter.com/A3ne558Vpp
— Cove Rangers FC (@CoveRangersFC) July 6, 2021
South section: Airdrieonians v Queen’s Park/Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic; Celtic B/Annan Athletic v Morton; Hamilton Accies v Edinburgh City/Hearts B; Dumbarton/Rangers B v Ayr United; Kilmarnock v Falkirk/East Kilbride; Stranraer/Motherwell B v Partick Thistle; Queen of the South v Broomhill/Clyde; Livingston B/Albion Rovers v St Mirren B/Kelty Hearts.
Ties to be played September 4 & 5
Other key dates
Third round – October 9 & 10
Quarter-finals – November 30 & December 1
Semi-finals – March 1 & 2
Final – April 2 & 3